By Stacy Nguyen
Northwest Asian Weekly
For Maribeth Ellis, executive director of the Chinatown/International District Business Improvement Area (CIDBIA), watching the never-before-seen throngs of families who packed themselves into the International District (ID) for last year’s Lunar New Year Celebration, which CIDBIA organized, was a moment of triumph. Last year was the first year the celebration was held outside of King Street Station and into the ID.
Ellis is taking that same innovative spirit and applying it to this year’s event. New to this year’s celebration is the Children’s Parade Contest, which will be held on Saturday, Feb. 13, at 1:30 p.m. There is no cost to participate in the parade.
“There were so many children who were dressed in beautiful attire and clothing,” said Ellis. “It was one of those really photogenic moments. So Assunta [Ng] said, ‘You know, a children’s parade would be great. I’d love to talk to you next year about doing a children’s parade.’ I said, ‘I will definitely talk to you about it!’ That’s how it was born.”
Ng is the publisher of the Northwest Asian Weekly (NWAW) and the Seattle Chinese Post (SCP). Her newspapers are the organizers of the parade, while the CIDBIA remains involved as the parade’s producer.
As for what inspired Ng, she said it was the kids. “Last year, I was impressed that so many kids and families visited our area and that they were dressed in native Asian costumes of red and gold. I envisioned a line of kids parading up and down the street in beautiful native costumes, dancing, clapping with their parents cheering on the side,” said Ng. “[A parade and contest] would draw hundreds of kids and families to the International District. … This would be the biggest showcase of the International District — a colorful display of Asian cultures by children for friends and families,” said Ng.
In order to participate in the parade, a child has to be younger than 12 years and should be wearing culturally relevant or traditional Asian clothing.
However, the parade organizers are sympathetic to the fact that not all families may have traditional Asian clothing on hand.
“Children are encouraged to wear culturally relevant attire to the Lunar New Year Celebration, [but] if not, [they can wear] anything gold or red,” said the parade’s volunteer coordinator, Ava Van. Non-Asian children are also encouraged to participate.
Additionally, Van said the parade will cover a city block and will begin near Hing Hay Park and South King Street. Depending on the weather, the exact route may change.
Since it is the year of the tiger, the organizers and producers thought it would be appropriate for a person dressed in a tiger costume to lead the parade. Young children can march with their parents, and those parents are also encouraged to wear culturally relevant attire. A portion of the parade will cross over the elevated stage in Hing Hay Park so that parents have an opportunity to take good photos of the children.
As for the contest portion of the parade, prizes will be given out to those with the best and most unique attires. There will be three main winners, which a panel of judges will select. First prize will receive $50 and “goodies,” said Ng. Second prize includes $30 and goodies, and third prize includes $20 and goodies. All participants will receive gift items such as fortune cookies, passes to local attractions in the area, and participation certificates. These prizes are possible through the help of the parade’s title sponsor, Panda Express.
Parade participants may pre-register or register onsite on a first-come, first-served basis before 1 p.m. on Feb. 13 in front of the NWAW/SCP news building (412 Maynard Ave. S., Seattle). The parade starts at 1:30 p.m., and the winners will be announced at 2 p.m. ♦
Stacy Nguyen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sponsor for the parade: